Transfer fund call

Chris Lakey A Canaries fan has come up with a revolutionary scheme which he claims could pump an annual six-figure sum into the club's transfer window piggy bank.

Chris Lakey


A Canaries fan has come up with a revolutionary scheme which he claims could pump an annual six-figure sum into the club's transfer window piggy bank.

Iain Walpole has already spoken to leading club officials about the “Norwich City Kitty” - and received tacit approval for his plans.

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Walpole, 43, is working on the basic premise that even a £5 a month contribution from just 25pc of City's average home gate would, with interest, create a healthy six-figure lump sum exclusively for the use of the manager in buying players - and believes there is scope for getting past the £1m barrier.

With just seven days to go before the end of the current transfer window, Walpole expects the scheme to be up and running within two months, with a substantial amount available for the window in 12 months' time.

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“If you take £5 as a minimum figure and then add on the fact that many will contribute more, that we might get more than that number of people involved, plus overseas fans - it could well top £1m,” he said.

Walpole's plan was hatched after seeing massive amounts of money invested into Ipswich by Marcus Evans and into Queens Park Rangers by billionaire Lakshmi Mittal.

Instead of fund-raising activities, which Walpole fears fans would lose interest in, fans would be asked to open a direct debit arrangement.

“Having spoken to people we found it was quite normal for direct debits that are amounts of £20 or less to be pretty much ignored even if people have forgotten what they are for,” said Walpole, a fan for 40 years.

“So with this thought in mind it seemed a logical way to get fans to give money to a players' transfer fund over an indefinite period is via the direct debit method. This could be done starting at a minimum of £5 per month to keep it within the financial viability of everyone.

“In the past many clubs have raised funds to save their club, buy a player, or build a stand, but this has always been done by collections at matches, auctions and events. All of these money raising methods are all well and good, apart from one major flaw: people get bored with them and become apathetic to the whole fundraising scheme.

“It then became very clear that what was needed was sustained and committed ongoing funding.”

Walpole has already discussed the matter with club chief executive Neil Doncaster who said: “We welcome all supporter initiatives to raise money for the club.

“There are a huge number of supporters' organisations who are already doing just that and we are very grateful to all of them.

“We wish Mr Walpole luck with this initiative and, of course, we hope that it successfully raises funds which can strengthen the manager's hand in the transfer market.”

Four years ago a club share issue raised £1.5m which helped to purchase players who led City to promotion, but clubs are generally reluctant to entertain supporters' plans to help raise the money for specific players.

The major proviso of this scheme is that the money raised would be exclusively for the purchase of players - which came across loud and clear when Walpole aired his ideas on a fans' web site.

“The main condition that supporters had to the formation and support of the kitty was that all of the funds raised, less admin costs, were only to be used for transfers, with the investment to be reused if the player is sold,” explained Walpole, a former member of Waveney District Council who lives in Cambridge.

“The kitty should not be used to fund any loans or improvements to the infrastructure of the club. This way the kitty would in theory grow year on year, other than loss through career ending injury or failure to recoup a transfer fee.

“This will over a period of time relieve the club/directors of the burden of trying to compete with the mega rich clubs, both the club and the supporters benefit by getting what they want: a good team and prudent management of the club.

“The club would receive funds for transfers when the manager had identified a target and wished to put in a bid. We would not want to know who, what or why, just how much was needed for the manager to capture his target's signature.”

Walpole has enlisted the professional services of Stephen Jacobs to design a commercial web site for the Kitty and is now actively searching among the City supporter base for members of other professions to help with finance, administration and legal matters.

“The interest has been 90pc supportive - there are always those who say that they buy shirts and that sort of thing to help the club,” he said. “Many others have been more than happy to set the ball rolling.

“This club will be here long after the directors have gone and we need to look after it.”

(.) What do you think? Have your say on or write to us at EDP sports desk, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE

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